Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Lineage of Grace - RUTH

This is the third in a series of women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ. To get caught up, check here and here.
Ruth - is one of the more romantic stories in the Bible, and in the retelling of this story, the author does not disappoint. Here's a scaled down version.

Ruth was Naomi's daughter in law and she was from Moab. Moab is where Naomi and her husband moved to for a better life, but it was not a Godly country. Naomi's husband and her two sons died, leaving her without someone to carry on the family name. At the same time Naomi heard that life was better back home, so Naomi decided to go back home to Bethlehem with her two daughters in law. She didn't anticipate that they would make the journey with her, after all, they were not from Bethlehem. Orphah chose to stay which was not a problem for Naomi, but Ruth decided to go wherever her mother in law was going, which was uncharacteristic. Somehow she had come to believe in Naomi's God, and made that famous statement found in the first chapter of Ruth:
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-18
This may have been a turning point for Naomi, as up to this point she thought her life was bitter.
They travel to Bethlehem and end up working in the fields of Boaz. Boaz is a well respected guy, a bachelor, who had done well for himself by following Godly principles, and who took care of his employees. Boaz was also a relative of Naomi, and the son of Rahab.

Naomi recognizes that there is an opportunity for her line to be carried on through Boaz as he is what is known as a kinsman redeemer; she provides counsel to Ruth on what she needs to do, based on Israelite customs and guidelines from God.  Ruth is obedient and follows Naomi's instruction.

Ultimately, Boaz and Ruth are married and have a child named Obed, who was the father of Jesse (who was the father of David). Ruth was said to be better to Naomi than seven sons  - that is an amazing testimony.

They are many women in this story - Ruth, Naomi, Orphah; which one do you relate to? Naomi never seemed happy in Moab, but went because it was her husband's decision; based on the unfolding of the story, do you think God honored her decision? Even though Naomi was initially bitter, Ruth chose to follow her - what does that say about both women's character? Naomi was able to impart sound counsel to Ruth in spite of her circumstances; how was she able to do so? Can the same be said of us? Is it uncharacteristic to feel closer to your in-laws than your natural family?

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